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EHFA Brussels Bulletin Omnibus

02 October, 2013

Omnibus - October 2013

EHFA monitors political and legislative developments within the European institutions and key organisations focusing on the health and fitness sector at national and European levels. From this, we compile important developments and event briefings into a bi-monthly ‘Brussels Bulletin’ which is subsequently distributed to members. We feel that it is vital to keep members updated on all developments which may impact them or be of interest to them. This omnibus edition provides samples of the content from various editions of the ‘Brussels Bulletin’.


MEPs vote on anti-tobacco laws – New Article

In the October plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, MEPs voted to tighten tobacco regulations in the European Union. According to the European Commission, nearly 700,000 EU citizens die each year from smoking-related illnesses. MEPs voted to have health warnings covering 65% of tobacco packets. While this is an increase on the current requirements, it does not reach the 75% coverage which had been proposed by the European Commission. In addition to this, packs of ten cigarettes will be banned as will the use of words such as “light”, “low tar” and “mild” in the marketing of tobacco products. MEPs also voted to ban the use of flavourings in cigarettes, but as part of this vote, the ban on menthol flavouring in cigarettes will be delayed for five years. This will be accompanied with a ban on all tobacco products which are made to look like lipstick or perfume containers as a way to make them attractive to a female audience. However, slim cigarettes will not be banned as part of the tightened regulation. MEPs also decided not to treat e-cigarettes as medicinal products, a decision which would have allowed for increased regulation of these products.

New study suggests exercise has the potential to be as beneficial to health as drug interventions – October 7th Edition

The British Medical Journal has published a new study by Huseyin Naci and John P. A. Ioannidis on the ‘Comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions on mortality outcomes’. The study incorporates 16 meta-analyses which included 305 randomised controlled trials with 339,274 participants.
This study has provided evidence to suggest that exercise and drug interventions can have a similar impact on mortality outcomes in the cases of prediabetes and coronary heart disease. However, in the case of heart disease, neither exercise nor other types of drugs had as positive an impact on health outcomes as diuretics. Furthermore, exercise proved to more beneficial in terms of mortality outcomes than drugs in cases of stroke rehabilitation. Taking this into account, it appears that exercise has the potential to be as effective as drug interventions in the treatment of many conditions.

Study on fruit and vegetable intake and healthy eating – September 27th Edition

The findings of a study on the ‘Association between fruits and vegetables intake and frequency of breakfast and snacks consumption’ has found that it is essential to promote regular meal intake as part of a healthy nutritional routine among teenagers, as well as encouraging the consumption of fruits and vegetables. This study highlights that, among 11-13 and 15 year old school children in particular, irregular meal intake corresponded highly with low levels of fruit and vegetable consumption. Thus, this is something which must be tackled in order to promote healthy lifestyles among, not only our youth, but also for all other groups in society. Family meals provided the greatest basis to promote the regular consumption of fruit and vegetables and, on this basis; the study concluded that the parents of school-age children should be involved in health-promotion interventions. Of course, healthy eating must be combined with regular physical activity in order to have the healthiest lifestyle possible.

The European Union aims to tackle obesity more efficiently – September 20th Edition

Obesity increases the likelihood of developing many diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers and type-2 diabetes. In fact, 23% of women in the EU are obesity while the figure for men stands at 20%. In response to the obesity crisis in Europe, Commissioner Vassiliou has stated that the EU should pursue a ‘bottom-up’ approach to tackle it. She stated that “You can’t impose it from the top. You have to really create the right environment for people to see that it’s worth adopting these changes in their lifestyles”.
Following a bottom-up approach in the battle against obesity will provide a platform which may have more success in terms of encouraging people to take part in physical activity in comparison to a top-down approach. One way by which physical activity can be encouraged is through the initiative which Commissioner Vassiliou recently launched called the ‘European Week of Sport’. The Lithuanian vice-minister for health Gediminas Černiauskas stated that, if the implementation of awareness projects could increase physical activity levels among citizens by even one minute each day, then the health benefits could be great.

Commission President José Manuel Barosso gives ‘State of the Union’ address – September 13th Edition

On Wednesday September 11th, José Manuel Barosso gave his annual ‘State of the Union’ address to the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg. In this address, President Barosso highlighted tackling unemployment and promoting growth as the priorities for the European Union. Overall, this speech focused on the economic crisis and the challenges posed by it. Stating that the EU is doing everything it can to promote growth he said that, for the European Union, “recovery is in sight”.
In relation to research and innovation, President Barosso made the point that science is fundamental to solving many of the problems faced by the world and the EU can lead the way in relation to this. This was followed by the statement that this is the reason that the Horizon 2020 programme has been prioritised in the budget for the next 7 years. The priority provided to Horizon 2020 is set to further investment in skills and education. This is of great importance for the health and fitness sector as it has the potential to be a large beneficiary of funding for skills and education.

The European Commission adopts its first ever initiative for a Council recommendation in the area of sport and physical activity - September 5th Edition

On August 28th the European Commission adopted an initiative on health-enhancing physical activity. This is the first initiative the European Commission has adopted in this policy area. The aim of this initiative is to promote physical activity throughout the EU. It is hoped that this initiative will lead to Member States implementing policy in all of the policy areas which could encourage people to become physically active. One particular measure suggested is the tracing of developments and the identification of trends related to physical activity across Member States. Such tracing and identification will allow for Member States to introduce the measures which they know will be most effective. The Council of the European Union will now start to debate this recommendation and they could adopt it before the end of 2013.

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